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MIDWEST COMPUTER GENEALOGISTS 


_ NEWSLETTER _ 

www.foxwoodsprinqs.org 

Volume XXIV_February, 2020_Number 1 


MUSIC AND OTHER WINTER HEARTH 
PASTIMES ON 
THE VERMONT FRONTIER 

Julia Morse 

A distant Morse cousin, Mrs. Bathsheba H. Crane, 
recorded her childhood reminiscences growing up in 
a small community in the woodlands of Vermont in 
the early 1800's—the same place and time where 
Albert’s and my ancestor, Ephraim Morse, lived as a 
very little boy. Here are some excerpts of her account 
which give insight into the winter pastimes of the 
young people and their families: 

"We loved our icicled home, clad in the snows of 
winter, and time or distance can never efface its 
hallowed scenes from memory. During the long 
evenings, when the storm raged without, the fire 
blazed upon the hearth. . . . Father and mother were 
there, and never a shadow had darkened our days. We 
felt a sense of pleasure in a respite from labor, — of 
ease, security, and freedom in the presence of love and 
providence, which made home the happiest place on 
earth. . . . 

"At such times, the large kitchen was converted into 
a workshop, or whittling-room. My brothers worked 
upon their hand-sleds, or articles of curious 
mechanism, and miniature musical instruments, or at 
their hard sums in arithmetic. 

“Their first specimen of a musical instrument was a 
violin as large as a man's hand, neatly strung with 
horse-hair, and called by them "Little Kit." It had a 
dainty little bow, and, when well fingered, made a 
concord of sweet sounds. Next came one larger; then 
another; and at last, a bass-viol and a beautiful violin 
were finished, which filled the house with music, 
beguiling the hours and giving us the most ecstatic 
pleasure. We have often wished there were just such 


kitchens nowadays for boys. . . ." 

"The Morses were great lovers of music, and for 
generations had been sweet singers in Israel. Uncle 
[Captain Jacob Morse] and his wife [Sarah Hawes 
Morse], with their family of eight sons and two 
daughters, were all, at different times, members of the 
choir. Their children seemed bom to sing like the 
birds, and never tire of music. N. C., one of the 
younger sons, played on the violin, sang ballads, and 
united with the choir in boyhood; later he was 
professor of music, and is now among white-haired 
men of affluence in Kentucky. [See Note 1.] 

“Singing was their recreation. After the business of 
the day was over, with the assistance of the "big bass'" 
and other musical instruments, which took the place 
of the modern piano, they rehearsed selections from 
the late composers, or sung the old church melodies, 
the music of which was never considered perfect 
without the aid of the mother's rich, mellow, alto 
voice, which gave a sweetness and freshness to the 
fugues absolutely charming. ..." 

". . .Nothing so endears a family to each other, and 
binds them to their early home with tender memories, 
as joining in the harmonies of evening music at the 
fireside, when heart throbs to heart in gentle and lofty 
sympathies, with a freedom from care that will never 
come again. Other scenes will fade, and voices be 
forgotten, but the inspiration of those sacred hours 
will go with us through life, like an 'old hymn, laid up 
in the heart.' . . " 

— Bathsheba H. Crane (1880). Life, letters, and 
wayside gleaning: For the folks at home. Boston: 
James H. Earle, Publisher, p. 91; 68-69. 
https ://archive .org/ details/lifeletterswaysiOOcran 

Mrs. Crane, at the encouragement of her cousin N.C. 
Morse, recorded and published her reminicenses in 


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1880. They are now archived and available for us and 
future generations through the Genealogy Collection 
of Allen County Public Library at Internet Archive. 

MCG is now beginning to publish our own collections 
at Inernet Archive. Your stories could be there, too! 


[Note 1] 

N. C. Morse left an interesting heritage, worthy of 
further mention. He made music his early profession, 
selling pianos, other instruments, and sheet music in 
Cincinnati and Louisville, Kentucky. His Cincinnati 
piano works hired Old-World master artisans to 
obtain the best quality in sound. The Cincinnati piano 
works were eventually sold to the company that 
became Baldwin pianos. N. C. published songs (sheet 
music) of his own composition, one which was 
recorded well over a century later by the Grateful 
Dead. He eventually found other businesses and 
investments (such as tobacco processing for export, 
mining land speculation, and suspension bridge 
building) to be more lucrative, but continued 
providing music to his church and friends as a life¬ 
long hobby. 

THE PRESIDENT'S CORNER 

A1 Morse 

My 7th great grandfather on my mother's side was 
Thomas Farnsworth. He came to America in 1677 
from England. He was a Quaker and had been arrested 
for attending Quaker meetings. His wife, Susanna, 
two children, and two servants came to America in 
1678. She was a Quaker minister. The two servants 
were probably indentured servants. They would not 
have been able to pay to come to America, so they 
agreed to work for someone who would pay their way 
for a set number of years. They would then be allowed 
to be free. The Farnsworth family settled in New 
Jersey. Five more children were bom to Thomas and 
Susanna, and the youngest, Henry, was my 6th great 
grandfather. 


Henry had a son, Thomas, who left New Jersey and 
owned a lot of land on Staten Island, New York. He 
later moved to Virginia. He had a son, Daniel, and 
Daniel had a son, Isaac, who became my 3rd great 
grandfather. He married Louisa Tracey around 1830. 
They had 7 children and their oldest child, a 
daughter, was Rachel Elizabeth, who was bom in 
1831. She married Joseph Mooney on October 21, 
1847. 

Joseph Mooney had visited two of his brothers in Clay 
County, Missouri. So, Joseph and Rachel Mooney, 
with 3 children and Rachel's parents, Isaac and Louisa 
Farnsworth, and their 6 children, moved to Clay 
County, Missouri in 1854. They traveled by boat, 
bringing some furniture with them. They traveled 
down the Ohio River, up the Mississippi River, and 
up the Missouri River to Liberty Landing, Clay 
County, Missouri. Unfortunately, Isaac Farnsworth 
died of cholera and was buried at night on the ha nk s 
of the Missouri River. 

Joseph and Rachel Mooney fanned in Clay County. 
They had 5 more children born there. The youngest 
was Laura Jessie, born April 21, 1871. She became 
my grandmother. Louisa Farnsworth settled in 
Liberty, Missouri and raised her children. She later 
moved to Kansas City, Missouri. 

An interesting story passed down by my mother, 
Mildred Catherine (Janssens) Morse, was that Joseph 
Mooney was a miller of grain. As border problems 
existed, times could be challenging. Joseph was 
grinding some grain for someone when some 
Jayhawkers came by. They were not pleased that he 
was doing that for that person and prepared to hang 
him. But a neighbor boy, the son of Zarilda Samuel, 
Jessie James, came by and convinced the Jayhawkers 
that Joseph was an honest person and ground grain for 
everybody regardless of their beliefs. This saved 
Joseph Mooney's life. 

The Mooney family kept moving and renting other 
properties. About 1880, their oldest son, Dr. Joseph 
Henry Mooney, bought a boarding house in Harlem, 
Missouri across the Missouri River from Kansas City, 
Missouri. Joseph and Rachel and their family moved 
in and helped run the boarding house. In 1886, the 
Mooney's youngest daughter, Laura, was helping by 


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serving as a waitress. David Janssens came by to eat 
often. He fell in love with Laura and asked her father 
if he could marry her. Laura was 15 years old, and 
Joseph told David that she could not be married until 
she was 18. Laura turned 18 on April 21, 1889. 

David Janssens was bom March 8, 1854 in Zandvliet, 
Belgium. He came to America in 1880. He traveled 
from New York to Pennsylvania, to Chicago, and to 
Harlem, Missouri. He was 35 years old and Laura was 
18 when they got married on April 23, 1889. They 
eventually had 14 children. Child number 12 was 
Mildred Catherine Janssens, bom October 21,1910 in 
Parkville, Missouri. She became my mother. 

The family kept moving to many different locations. 
They moved to Kansas City, Missouri and lived there 
from 1892 to 1909. They lived in different houses, but 
stayed the longest at 1406 McGee. David owned a 
business that handled poultry, eggs, butter, game, and 
hides at 122 E. Missouri Ave. A picture taken in 1907 
shows David and 2 of his employees and a wagon 
loaded with crates of live chickens on it. The wagon 
was pulled by a horse. Also, the oldest sons, Walter 
and Lester, were on the wagon as well. They would 
have been teenagers. 

The family eventually moved to Bates County, 
Missouri in 1917. They rented different properties, 
but they bought a farm in January, 1920. David died 
on December 2, 1920. The family sold the fann and 
rented other fanns in the Foster, Bates County, 
Missouri area. Mildred graduated from the 10th grade 
in Foster in 1927. Another student in that class was 
Albert Fra nk Morse. The Janssens family then moved 
to properties in the Rich Hill, Bates County, Missouri 
area. Mildred graduated from Rich Hill High School 
in 1929. 

The family moved to a farm on the east edge of Rich 
Hill in 1930. Laura had a stroke, and the family told 
Mildred to return to the farm and help with her mother 
and her brothers, who all lived there. The brothers had 
a dairy business. Laura died May 23, 1939. There 
were 4 children that were there at that time, and they 
all went different directions. On November 6, 1940, 
Mildred and Albert Morse were married in Rich Hill. 
On January 3, 1942,1 was bom. 


Much of the infonnation in this article was obtained 
from a book titled Farnsworth Memorial IF, pages 
759-774. And a Janssens Notebook, including 
pictures, stories, and genealogy tables, compiled by 
my cousin, Laura Frances (Seals) Scott. Her mother 
was child number 4, Amy Henrietta (Janssens) Seals. 

SEARCHING FOR ADOPTION RECORDS 


Marjorie Slavens 

Recently, I read two books that discussed adoption 
and challenges faced by those who want to search for 
adoption records. The first, Before We Were Yours, by 
Lisa Wingate, published in 2017, presents the 
Historical case of the Tennessee Children’s Home 
Society, which functioned from 1924 to 1950. 
Georgia Tan, the Director of this agency, had babies 
and small children kidnapped and sold to prospective 
parents, who paid Tan large sums to adopt those 
children.Two children of Joan Crawford were among 
the approximately 5,000 children for whom this 
organization arranged adoptions. 

Before We Were Yours was the story of 5 children, 
who were left alone on a boat in the Mississippi River 
and kidnapped while their parents were gone. Their 
baby sister was united with one of her sisters many 
years later. The children were not cared for properly 
while they were waiting to be adopted, and many of 
them died under the supervision of this illegal 
organization run by Tan, who became extremely 
wealthy. 

The second book, Before and After, discusses the 
efforts of some of the adopted children to find their 
birth families. They proposed to Lisa Wingate that she 
help them search for their families and assist them in 
holding a reunion of adoptive families who were 
illegally separated from their birth families by their 
Tennessee agency. The reunion was held in Memphis 
in 20195. Wingate and her friend, Judy Pace Christie, 
interviewed family members and described some of 
the searches to reunite the families. 

“During the first half of the twentieth century, the 
Tennessee Children's Home Society operated a 
black-market baby business that offered up stolen 


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children for adoption. The author recounts the stories 
of some of those children and their later lives, 
including their efforts to find their birth families.” 

In November, 2018, Beth Foulk presented at our 
MCG meeting her search for her older brother, who 
had been adopted before she was bom. She was able 
to find his birth mother and to tell her about her 
brother, but he decided that he did not want to meet 
his birth mother. He was pleased to have learned 
about her through Beth’s research. 

In the November, 2018 MCG Newsletter, I discussed 
the adoption of my niece and nephew, who were 
legally adopted as babies. In both Beth’s family and in 
ours, a natural child was born after the adoption of the 
older children, but both families were loved and 
completely integrated within the families without 
distinction. 

In Before and After, the adopted children, who were 
victims of the illegal action of the Tennessee 
Children’s Homes Society, wanted to meet their birth 
families. In some cases, they were illegally kidnapped 
and deprived of the relationship with parents and 
brothers and sisters. Although there was some 
resistance to this reunion in some cases, the final 
reunion was successful. The adopted children had no 
siblings in their new adoptive families, and they were 
able to know some of their siblings from their original 
families. In some cases, the family relationship was 
established from DNA testing through Ancestry.com. 

Some interest in tracing adoption records is for 
medical reasons. There are some situations in which 
the medical history of the family is extremely 
important in determining when certain medical 
situations are hereditary. In some cases, medical 
treatment for a condition can be done only with 
members of the birth families. 

It would seem that there are both advantages and 
disadvantages to such research. It can be very helpful 
in such medical cases, and, if both the adoptive and 
birth families are interested and willing to know each 
other and to meet. However, those who are involved 
in the research of their adoptions, both as parents and 
children, should be able to make their own decisions 
about their family identity and contact. 


PRESERVING STORIES OF FAMILY MUSIC 
AND OTHER PASTTIMES 

Julia Morse 

In a past newsletter, Albert Morse recorded some of 
the musical background of his family. This is an 
example of an aspect of family life that often is 
unrecorded and lost over time. 

Albert's grandfather, Clark Frank Morse, played the 
banjo, which he may have acquired as a teen. My 
mother remembers him reminiscing late his his life 
about good times with music in his home and among 
neighbors, when he was growing up in Bates County, 
Missouri. He talked about going to musical parties 
and dances. We thi nk these were neighbor's parties, 
a time when neighbors would invite neighbors to 
come for an evening of music and probably dancing 
and food. 

He seemed to indicate that there was less music in the 
days after he was married and had a family of his 
own. We can only today speculate why this was so. 
His wife, Dona Miller Morse, daughter of pastor 
William Barton Miller, might have brought a slightly 
different culture to the household, but certainly she 
married her husband knowing his interests. It may 
have been largely because he was so busy with his 
farm and family responsibilities that he had less time 
and energy for outside activities. 

Clark Frank’s grandson, Richard (my father), who 
played banjo himself, once wisely noted that it was 
the people who found time to sit on their porch and 
play that got good at playing the banjo! I’m pretty 
sure he attributed that wisdom as coming from his 
grandfather. 

While researching the diary of Clark Frank Morse's 
mother, Nancy Ward, I learned that when she was a 
schoolteacher boarding in Richmond, Illinois, she 
often spent evenings with friends in the town, where— 
I conclude, but cannot prove—music and singing was 
almost surely a part of their gatherings. Nancy was 
close friends with the wife of Dr. Robert F. Bennett 
and her sisters, and so she frequently visited and 
stayed for supper at the Dr. Bennett home. 


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Dr. Robert Bennett was an older brother of Samuel 
Filmore Bennett, who wrote the hymn "In the Sweet 
By and By." Prior to the Civil War, S. F. Bennett had 
been principal of the town school and an active 
proponent of teacher education in the county. Nancy 
may have attended one of his teaching seminars or 
even worked with him, though he was residing in 
Wisconsin at the time of Nancy’s diary. There is 
record of the circumstances in which the famous 
hymn came about, which suggests that it was normal 
in the small town communities (or at least among the 
Bennett family) for friends to pick up a fiddle and 
share or write a song or hymn. Nancy's 1867 winter 
evenings with the Robert Bennett family likely 
included similar sharing of music. Perhaps the 
Bennett family sang their brother’s hymn in this year 
prior to its publication. Sadly, Nancy’s 1867 diary 
seldom recorded specific details of her visits. 

Nancy did mention her occasional attendance at 
"singing school"—a common winter pastime in many 
frontier towns of the time—but she did not attend 
consistently. Whatever love of singing she may have 
shared with her later husband and children in Bates 
County is left unrecorded, with the exception of the 
comment from her son of fond memories of "much 
music in the home." 

While Clark Frank may have found music less 
prevalent by comparison in his later life, it was not 
totally missing. Two of his grandsons, Richard (my 
father) and his brother, Jack, usually lived and worked 
with him on the fann during the summers. Both of 
the boys somehow learned to play harmonica well 
enough to play at a local fair or competition, and were 
even once hired by a local storekeeper to perform for 
a promotional event. Later their younger brother, 
Bob, also learned banjo and guitar. 

Richard also recalled music from the radio. In order 
to enjoy better radio reception of The Grand Ole 
Opry, some of them would drive a vehicle to some 
spot known for better reception. Though Clark 
Frank’s fann was not electrified, he had a small wind 
generator device, specifically designed to power a 
radio. As families more frequently became listeners 
rather than participants, perhaps it was the old days of 
live, home-grown music and dancing that Grandpa 
Fra nk missed? 


Do you have fond memories of music or other 
pastimes in your home when you were a child? Or 
perhaps you remember comments from your parents 
and grandparents of what they did. Do write them 
down, or use your computer to record an audio or 
video recording telling these stories. We at MCG may 
be able to help you find a venue to archive them for 
the benefit of future generations. 

MUSIC IN THE FAMILY 

Marjorie Slavens 

Music has always been very important in my family. 
The articles written by A1 Morse about music in the 
Newcomb family of his wife Dorothy, and Julia 
Morse’s article this month about music in her family 
have inspired me to think about music in my own 
family. 

My father, Ralph Westmeier Slavens (1907-1983), 
was born in Seymour, Indiana. The grandparents of 
his mother, Edna Marie Westmeier, came to Indiana 
from Germany in 1841. His father, William Howard 
Slavens, was born in Henry County, Missouri and 
moved with his mother first to Kentucky and then to 
Seymour. His father bought a fann near Wicks, 
Arkansas in 1908, but it was not a very successful 
venture. They moved to Pittsburg, Kansas, and my 
father grew up there. 

In high school, my father took 4 years of Latin, 4 of 
English and one of Journalism, two of Spanish, and 4 
years of band, not the much needed advanced Math 
courses he would need for his future employment. He 
first studied the violin for 5 years but began cello 
lessons in the 8 th grade and loved the instrument. He 
played the cello in his high school orchestra when 
these activities were more recognized and supported 
than they are now. His favorite piece was the “Poet 
and Peasant Overture”, in which he played a solo. He 
could not continue with these activities after that time 
because his father thought a high school education 
was enough for anyone. It was more important to get 
a full-time job. My father became and electrician and 
later Maintenance Supervisor for the National Lead 
Company, but he never forgot about his music. 

He often talked about Joseph John “Johnny” 


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Richards, his band teacher. Richards took his bands to 
high school contests with Joplin, Springfield, 
Missouri, Columbus, Kansas, etc., all excellent high 
school bands. He encouraged his students to use their 
music talent in many ways. My father played in a 
small group at the Christian Church in Pittsburg, and 
Richards recruited him for the Pittsburg State College 
marching band as a drummer when no college 
students were available. My father admired Richards 
and told me these stories in May, 1983 in an audio 
interview I recorded with him just three months 
before he died. 

“Joseph John Richards (August 27, 1878 - March 16, 
1956) was a composer, conductor, and music educator 
best known for writing over 300 compositions for 
circus and school bands. His most successful works 
were marches, including Crusade for Freedom, 
Emblem of Unity, and Shield of Liberty. 

Richards was bom in Cwmafan, Wales, but spent 
most of his childhood in Pittsburg, Kansas, United 
States. He began playing alto horn and comet at the 
age of ten and became director of the Norton-Jones 
Circus Band at the age of nineteen. He would later 
play for and conduct several other circus bands, 
including the Bamum and Bailey Circus Band and the 
Ringling Brothers Band before they combined. When 
not playing for a circus, Richards studied music at 
Kansas State Teachers College and the American 
Conservatory of Music. 

He began teaching music during World War I, first to 
Anny bands and later to public schoolchildren. He 
conducted several municipal bands in Florida and 
Kansas until 1945 when he was selected to succeed 
Herbert L. Clarke as conductor of the Long Beach, 
California Municipal Band. He became a member of 
the American Bandmasters Association in 1936 and 
was elected president in 1949. 

Richards died in Long Beach, California in 1956. He 
was inducted into the Windjammers' Hall of Fame in 
1981. (www.wikipedia.com) 

My father always loved music and appreciated 
listening to music my mother, Mildred Marie Welty 
Slavens (1910-2008) played on the piano and organ. 
Mother played the piano and had many years of 


lessons. She also learned to play the organ and did so 
when her small church needed someone to play for 
services. She had a Hammond organ at home, but she 
was more comfortable with the piano. 

My parents inspired us to listen to and love good 
music. None of us studied music, but it has been very 
important in all of our lives. When we were young, 
they always took us to a Muny Opera perfonnance 
each year in St. Louis. My brother Everett, loved 
listening to Opera when we were younger, which 
bored me at the time, but I later became an addict for 
the Metropolitan Opera broadcasts on Saturday 
afternoon. He had season tickets for a number of years 
for the Houston Grand Opera. My sister, Beverly, and 
her family still go to Muny Opera performances and 
to shows at the Fox Theater in St. Louis. She and her 
husband, Don, attended a steel guitar convention in 
St. Louis for a number of years, and they love country 
music, as did our father. My sister, Carol, and I love 
Broadway musicals and television concerts. I have 
had season tickets for the Kansas City Symphony for 
20 years. 

My parents’ grandchildren played in their school 
bands. My sister, Beverly’s children, Linda and David 
played clarinets in high school, and David played 
clarinet and saxophone. My parents always enjoyed 
attending their concerts. My younger sister, Carol’s 
daughters, Robin and Christine played the flute, and 
Christine’s children, Jon and Jessica, played the 
trumpet and cello. My father would have been very 
pleased to know that Jessica was a good cello player. 

OFFICERS 

A1 Morse, President 
Byron Gilbreath, Treasurer 
Marjorie Slavens, Newsletter Editor 


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